There is a storm raging on TechCrunch over a post that Kevin Hague posted on his blog in response to Google’s purchase of JotSpot a little while ago. The content of the post isn’t as important as one of the principles arising out of the whole incident.
Basically what happened is that Kevin posted his thoughts about the impact the purchase was going to have on his business which relied, to a degree, on his company’s participation in a partnership program with JotSpot. He subsequently removed his post on the basis of a number of requests from people who are "important" to him. Kevin was criticised for removing the post, even though it was cached by a number of search engines and could be retrieved anyway. JotSpot was also criticised for taking the action it took when it was bought out and which seems to have contributed to Kevin’s post. There was some uncertainty whether Google and/or Jotspot required Kevin to remove the post and, if not, why he made that choice until both Kevin and Joe Kraus (Jotspot founder) responded in the comments to the TechCrunch post.
If you run a blog for your business and you allow for some form of feedback there is a good chance that one of your customers will criticise you on your blog, in the open. The big question is not so much whether there is truth to the criticism but rather what your response is going to be. Will you censor the comment and remove it or will you allow it to be published? If it is published, will you ignore it, defend yourself angrily or will you address the criticism?
These questions are important questions because they go to the heart of the notion of a market as a conversation and the basis for things like blogs as opportunities for feedback and interaction with customers. Ultimately it will be your choice but it if worth considering your choices carefully. When you do, consider why you enable your customers to give you feedback or, if you don’t, why you don’t? What is the harm in allowing your clients to speak to you directly about your products and services? What is the harm in you not allowing that and is that something you can afford to censor?
Customers want to have a say. This is not a new concept and you see it every time you go into a store and an enraged customer in the queue ahead of you demands to see The Manager. Customers want to express themselves to you and let you know what they think about your services or your products and if you want to build respect with your clients you need to find a way to deal with their feedback constructively. I’m not just talking about negative feedback but positive feedback as well. Both are important and both can help you become even better.
Do you allow your customers to criticise you on your site? How do you deal with it?